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How Roger Bootle shocked me out of my Brexit malaise

Chris Field
Chris Field

Those who wanted to remain in Europe accused the Brexiteers of not engaging in a proper debate. But in truth, both sides were so entrenched in their own beliefs and prejudices that no debate could ever really take place. And now it’s too late.

Or is it? It’s too late to stay in Europe of course, but it’s never too late to use this massive shock to the system to think differently.

Roger Bootle, one of the UK’s most seasoned economists and an ardent Eurosceptic, in his address to Retail Week Live on Wednesday, gave us a clue as to how we all got so blue. “Pessimism sells, but look what really happened – China didn’t collapse, the US economy kept growing, and oil process stayed stable.”

He also dispelled a few myths. “If being in the Single Market is so great, then how does that explain Italy and Greece?” He added that the EU was rubbish at doing trade deals, citing the example of the Canadian deal that was scuppered by the Belgian regions.

Bootle also said that the Eurozone has performed badly while the UK has grown. He accepted that things would be tough for a couple of years but commented, “once we come out of the Common Agricultural Policy, food prices will fall.” And, even better, “we get frightened about the prospect of tariffs but they are already falling, currently at 4%.”

He nailed his case by adding that every time so-called experts predict interest rates, they always get it wrong. They say rates are going to soar; and now that interest rates are low, they are saying they will fall further. “Predictions are always rubbish,” he concluded.

All this has helped me think differently. I remain a Remainer, but instead of wasting my energies lambasting Brexiteers, I am looking at all the opportunities I ignored when we were in the EU.

At Fieldworks, we are now trading more deeply in Europe than ever, and are now working for tech companies from Israel, South Africa, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, France and Germany. Now you can say that’s all startups, but it isn’t. Clearly it is not all down to my change of heart but I think that shedding my Remainer shackles has set me on a new path.

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